Saturday, September 23, 2006

"AWOL Solider Says He Wants To Come Home" (Jim Warren)

Lexington's Darrell Anderson says he would rather come home -- even if it means facing prison for deserting from the U.S. Army -- than continue a lonely and uncertain life in Canada.
As for those who brand him a coward, Anderson declares, "I'm a combat veteran; I've been to Baghdad and back. What have they done?" But Anderson insists he has no regrets about fleeing to Canada in January 2005 and publicly opposing the war in Iraq.
He said he's making plans now to return to the United States, turn himself in to a special processing unit at Fort Knox for soldiers absent without leave and accept whatever punishment he's given. That could mean a dishonorable discharge, jail time or both.
"I decided that I've got to go back and get this over with once and for all, instead of living in limbo up here forever," Anderson said by phone from Toronto.

Meanwhile, the post-traumatic stress symptoms that had plagued Anderson since his combat experiences in Iraq were getting worse. He said he got no treatment while he was in the Army. And, with little money and no Canadian health coverage, he couldn't afford private help.
"I had a few times where any kind of loud bang would just drop me to the ground," Anderson said. "But it was worst at night, when you would wake up thinking the place was blowing up or something. Sleep is the time you're supposed to relax, but for me the worst part of the day is going to sleep. Since I got back from Iraq, I don't think I've had a dream that wasn't a nightmare."
After considering everything -- including his deep homesickness -- coming home seemed the only real alternative, Anderson said.

The above is from Jim Warren's "AWOL soldier says he wants to come home" (Lexington Herald-Leader) and the latest on war resister Darrell Anderson. An AP article is all over, which is good, but the Warren article is what the AP cites. You can read the AP article by clicking here (Washington Post -- so it will be up for awhile). From that article (entitled "AWOL Soldier Plans to Return From Canada"):

This summer, Anderson was among a group of American military deserters visited by "peace mom" Cindy Sheehan, who was in Canada to support sanctuary for those fleeing the U.S. military.
[. . .]
After reviewing Anderson's record, the commander could order a less-than-honorable discharge or refer the case to a court-martial, which could impose a prison term and a dishonorable discharge, said Fort Knox spokeswoman Gini Sinclair.

For those not registered at the Post, you can click here (CBS) and read it without registration.

Ruth's Report just went up and covers Anderson (before today's news). This is the report she had ready for last Sunday but pulled because I was tired (from the 36 hours plus involved in the last edition for The Third Estate Sunday Edition plus several hours spent, Sunday night, fixing the links which had been "open" and knocked out sentences and whole paragraphs). It was ready on Thursday but delayed due to computer issues. Friday, with four entries posted, it wasn't going up. It is up now and I asked Ruth if there was anything she wanted to add before it is posted (as members know, Ruth's forever revising). No, she was happy with this one as it currently was. (And I didn't tell her Darrell Anderson was in today's news.)

Lloyd, Marcia and Carl have all written in wondering about the report as well Isaiah's contribution tomorrow. Ruth's up. Isaiah has been doing comics for the gina & krista round-robin (there will be a special Sunday edition as well) and intends to have something for this site. If he doesn't (he's already done a comic for for Friday's edition, Saturday's edition and will shortly work on one for Sunday's edition) have another one in him, we'll run an old one that posted badly (his second). Badly? Small. If that doesn't run this Sunday (due to his having a new one), it will run on a Sunday he needs off because I asked him to bring the original with him and we've scanned it Friday to fix it. (In it's original form here, the white space around it was too great, reducing the actual comic.) And remember that Kat's latest went up yesterday -- "Kat's Korner: 'Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?'".

Dona's reading over my shoulder and asks that it be noted the "open" links at The Third Estate Sunday Review were not Dallas' fault. We have no idea what happened but it happened. One piece was actually fine and not every link in those features with a problem resulted in lost sentences and paragraphs. (We thank Dallas for his help and there wouldn't be links without his help -- his help isn't limited to links.)

Martha passed on the topics for RadioNation with Laura Flanders (by signing up for e-mail alerts at Flanders' site which you can as well, no cost, no social security number asked for). An archived version of the two shows (Saturday and Sunday's) usually goes up Wednesday here.) It doesn't contain everything from both shows (you can't reduce six hours to one without losing some segments.) So you can listen to RadioNation with Laura Flanders live from seven to ten p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday online, over Air America Radio stations and on XM satellite radio:

What democracy do you impose with marines and bombs? What democracy makes it all but impossible to vote? We'll pick up Hugo Chavez's question and add a few of our own with Playwright, EVE ENSLER, whose new book "Insecure at Last" is about to hit the bookstores.
Voter suppression expert SPENCER OVERTON. And the director of OXFAM AMERICA: the aid group is repackaging itself to tackle poverty and hunger right here. All that and our media panel with top Nation writers and more.
Next weekend RadioNation will host the Youngblood Brass Band -- all nine of them for a drop-dead, knock out world music fest live in studio!

Lastly Rachel asked that this be noted:

Robert B. Silvers, editor of The New York Review of Books, discusses "The Company They Kept: Writers on Unforgettable Friendships," a volume edited by him and the late Barbara Epstein, his co-editor of over 40 years; writer Bibi Wein on her first work of creative non-fiction, "The Way Home: A Wilderness Journy."

Cat Radio Cafe, hosted by Janet Coleman (and I believe David Dozier -- Coleman and Dozier have had a long running working partnership and should be noted as the longest running comedy duo on public radio) airs on WBAI each Monday at 2:00 pm EST. You can listen over the airwaves in NYC, online live or online via archived broadcasts at either WBAI or the site Cat Radio Cafe.

The e-mail address for this site is

Ruth's Report

Ruth: In the documentary Sir! No Sir!, Rita Martinson's "Soldier, We Love You" can be heard. The song, written by Ms. Martinson, includes the following lyrics:

Soldier, we love you
Yeah, soldier we love you
Standing strong
'Cause it's hard to do
What you know you must do
Cause it's true
Yes, it's true.
They locked you up in their stockades
Yeah, they locked you up 'cause they're afraid
That you would rap and spread the word
But you can't jail truth, it will be heard.

David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! looks at war resistance during Vietnam and war resistance continues today. One of the earliest war resisters to go public was Camilo Mejia and State Radio has recorded a song "Camilo:"

Oh my country, won't you call out
Doorbells are ringing with boxes of bones
From another land's war torn corners
To a prison cell in my own

Mr. Mejia was convicted of desertion for standing up against the war and, as Ms. Martinson sang in an earlier time, you can be sure "they" were, indeed, afraid. The list of war resisters continues to grow each year that the war drags on and includes the names: Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Kevin Benderman, Ricky Clousing, Mark Wilkerson, Carl Webb, Katherine Jashinski and Ehren Watada. Those are some of the names known.

In addition, war resisters include, as true in Vietnam, those who refuse to serve in an illegal war and, to use C.I.'s term, self-check out and go to Canada. An estimated 100,000 made the decision to go to Canada during the Vietnam era for this reason and an estimated 200 have made the decision to do so today. This was a difficult decision in an earlier conflict and it remains a difficult one today.

It is legally difficult because, unlike during Vietnam, the Canadian government has refused to grant refugee status thus far. It is personally difficult because there is no blanket amnesty in the United States. When Jimmy Carter was president he issued a partial amnesty to those who refused the draft but not to those who checked themselves out. President Jimmy Carter was criticized for the pardon issued in real time.

There were, as expected, thos who screamed against any type of pardons. There were also those who wondered how an illegal war could only result in one type of pardon? Some believed, at the time, that this was step one for President Carter and that the commission he created would lead to further policies being implemented. That did not take place. The Ford Foundation did a study at that time which found that so-called draft dodgers were predominately white and from a higher economic status positions while those who self-checked out or were discharged under less than honorable circumstances tended to be people of color and from a disadvantaged economic class.

The best President Carter could ever offer for the second class was a case-by-case basis. This was during a time following the exposures of the disgraced Richard Nixon's reign of crimes and at a time when opposition to the war in Vietnam was at an all time high. If President Carter could not or would not offer a blank pardon, as opposed to his two-tiered system, it is questionable whether any type of pardon would come about today even were the Bully Boy to be impeached?

Those who resisted during Vietnam by self-checking out and moving to Canada knew they were making a long-term, if not permanent, decision. Returning to the United States after such a decision, to witness a birth, attend a wedding or funeral, put the person at risk of arrest and the FBI was known to attend the funerals of families of war resisters in the hopes of capturing a war resister.

So the decision to resist by going to Canada, a brave and valid decision, carries with it the prospect that you may never be able to legally return to the United States and that, doing so, may result in arrest. Some of those resisters willing to pursue that option today include Jeremy Hinzman, Brandon Hughey, Kyle Snyder and Patrick Hart.

Darrell Anderson also elected to pursue that path in January 2005. Earlier this month, news came from his mother, Anita Anderson, that Mr. Anderson was considering returning to the United States. At that time, she was opposed to his returning because of the fact that he would surely be arrested and because the circumstances of his case made it very likely that he would be able to remain in Canada legally. Besides applying for war refugee status, Anderson is also married to a Canadian citizen, Gail Greer, whom he met when she was working of a film about war resisters. It was thought that if refugee status was not granted, Anderson would be allowed to legally stay in Canada due to the fact that, as Anita Anderson told Jim Warren of The Lexington Herald-Leader, "he's probably going to get sponsorship in Canada now that he is married to a Canadian girl. But he's constantly stressed out and worried, and he feels like he can't live out the rest of his life this way."

This was updated when Anita Anderson spoke with Phinjo Gombu, of The Toronto Star, and noted that her son had made his decision and, short of a decision being handed down by the Canadian government in the next few weeks, Darrell Anderson would be returning to the United States. Anita Anderson stated that, "He feels that everything he did was a moral stand and he has to follow it through, which means coming back and facing it, telling everybody what's happening there, what's happening to soldiers and the innocent Iraqi people."

Darrell Anderson's plans currently are to cross the border, where a press conference will be held, and to then turn himself into Fort Knox. [C.I. note: More information on Anderson and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.] He is likely to face a dishonorable discharge or a court-martial which may result in imprisonment.

Mr. Anderson is a young man, twenty-four years old, who was decorated with the Purple Heart for his first tour in Iraq. Facing a second deployment to Iraq, Mr. Anderson made the decision to go to Canada.

That was a difficult decision and an honorable one. His current decision is also difficult and honorable and one might question why it is the sons and daughters of America that faces the difficult decisions and the Bully Boy who started the illegal war remains immune to them and receives, to this day, very little condemnation from big media for his actions and deceit that has led to the deaths of nearly 2700 Americans and untold Iraqis. For all of his crimes, and Tricky Dick committed many crimes, the disgraced Richard Nixon could, and did, point out, repeatedly, that he did not start with the war with Vietnam. Bully Boy has no such 'get out of jail free' card though big media continues to act as if he did.

I hope that one of the two avenues, either refugee status being granted or sponsorship being granted, will open and Mr. Anderson will be able to remain in Canada but, regardless of the outcome, it is past time that big media and our Congress began holding Bully Boy's feet to the fire and demanding answers, not evasions, as to his actions in the lead up to the illegal war as well as exactly how the United States government intends to bring the troops home. "When things are better" is not a plan, it is only a postponing or avoiding the creation of a plan for withdrawal.

When Jane Fonda returned from Vietnam, she spoke of the pain of the Vietnamese and the pain of America because the war was a tragedy for people of both countries. Some grasped that at the time, some did not grasp that until later and some, intent on denial, never grasped it. The illegal war in Iraq is a tragedy for all involved and yet, the person responsible for this illegal war, the Bully Boy, got his summer vacation.

He did not spend it camped out week after week on his ranch in Crawford as he usually does. However, thanks to Iraq falling off the media radar, he certainly was able to take a break from the pressure and guilt he should be confronted with each day that the war drags on and for his post-White House days. Others live with the consequences of his actions each day, so should he.

Oppel, Jamal, AP and more

The commander of United States forces in Baghdad said Friday that he needed 3,000 more Iraqi troops to patrol the city, but that he was having trouble getting them because they did not want to leave their home regions.
"What I still need in here in terms of battalions from the Iraqi Army that I would like to see is approximately six battalions, and the government is working to do that," Maj. Gen. James Thurman, the commander of the Fourth Infantry Division, told reporters in a briefing in Baghdad.

The above is from Richard A. Oppel Jr's "Blasts in Western Baghdad Damage Mosque and Homes" in this morning's New York Times. AP reports that in Baghdad today there have been two major explosions -- one claimed the lives of 32 people while the other wounded 38. Julian E. Barnes and Solomon Moore report on Friday's violence in "Many Iraqi Troops Are No-Shows in Baghdad" (Los Angeles Times):

Thurman's comments came on a day of continued violence in the country, including the execution-style slayings of nine Sunni Arabs dragged from a wedding dinner east of Baghdad by armed men who reportedly were wearing Iraqi uniforms.
"Three civilian cars and one minibus came to our house with armed men wearing Iraqi army uniforms," the groom's father, Mohammed Dulaimi, 61, told police. "They raided the house and asked to take some of the guests for routine investigations."Police later found the bodies of nine wedding guests on Baghdad's outskirts. Each had been shot several times.
[. . .]
In west Baghdad, Shiite militiamen set fire to two buildings occupied by two prominent Sunni political parties and ordered all Sunnis out of the neighborhood.

We'll come back to Iraq in a minute but right now we'll note Motoko Rich's "U.S. Best Seller, Thanks to Rave by Latin Leftist" (New York Times) both because it's rare that the authors of glorified PowerPoint presentations feel the need to slam actual authors: Alan Dershowitz claims he knows no one who reads Noam Chomsky. That actually would make sense, like attracts like so someone as empty headed as Dershowitz probably wouldn't know many people who actually read. Dershowitz wet dreams and drools over Chomsky's sales (if you've never skimmed -- don't call it reading -- Dershowitz, go to any strip mall and check the remainders -- you'll find tons of Dershowitz' books). But we'll also note it for the concluding paragraph:

As a matter of fact, it is a growing trend. At a press conference in the East Room of the White House yesterday, Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, dodged a few questions by joking that Simon & Schuster, which is publishing his memoirs on Sept. 25, had barred him from commenting until his book is out. President Bush played along: "In other words, 'Buy the book' is what he’s saying," Mr. Bush said.

A point made much better and funnier in Wally's "THIS JUST IN! BULLY BOY & FRIENDS HELP MUSHARRAF PLUG BOOK!" and Cedric's "The Bully Boy Book Club (humor)" yesterday.

Now back to Iraq. A visitor e-mailed and is apparently visiting the site for the first time. He's got two issues. The first is the snapshots. The AP was noted yesterday (the first snapshot he saw). The AP's probably noted in every snapshot. They're a wire service. There are days when, outside the wire services, only a handful of sources are noting Iraq. We don't highlight everything AP does (and AP releases many wire reports each day from Iraq -- from all over but we're focused on Iraq). What we do highlight meets my own judgement and those of people I'm calling before I post those entries. Can there be a mistake? Absolutely. (And there are probably many each week. On the topic of wire services, it should also be noted that the Pike Report referred to the CIA's successful attempts in manipulating Reuters wire releases. We also note Reuters here.)

The visitor has a highlight, which we will note in a minuate. But the highlight takes AP to task for promoting a story that 'tribes' have banded together in Al Anbar to work with the US military. The visitor wonders why we never addressed that?

We did address the myth. Monday's "NYT: Caught in the spin" addresses that and took over an hour of phone calls to reporters who'd covered the area and soldiers who'd served there. At one point, I was asked if I'd seen the Washington Post that morning? No, I hadn't. I hadn't opened it up yet and I hadn't read Martha's e-mail (containing a highlight from the paper). If you read
"NYT: Caught in the spin," you'll see that we addressed it back on Monday when the Times was 'reporting' that:

Khalid al-Ansary and Ali Adeeb have an article in the New York Times which recounts some of yesterday's violence (violence already noted in last night's "And the war drags on") and also states that 25 of 31 tribes in Al Anbar have formed an agreement of some kind. What kind? Who knows? Maybe someone got paid off to make a statement?
Congratulations to the two writers for finally getting their own byline. But the article defies disbelief. The spokesperson doesn't seem to be describing reality so much as saying what the US military would want people to believe. Pay off, deal to leave or just blowing hot air is the consensus on his statements from everyone I spoke to this morning (the reason this entry is started so late) that has served in the province or reported from it. No one's buying it. I'm not quoting from the article or even noting's it's title. When I read it this morning, I reached for the phone. Again, congratulations on the long deserved byline without any American listed (see Friday's entry for Dexy's talk) but I have no faith in that article.

There's more, including the fact that Amit R. Paley's "Blasts in Kirkuk Kill 26; Police Bureau Destroyed" (Washington Post) refuted that phoney claim. We addressed it on Monday.

The visitor wanted this highlighted from Dahr Jamail's "AP Propaganda About Iraq" (Truthout):

At this point, either the author of this AP story, or the editor, or both, rightly assume that the reader is not aware that Sheik Fassalal-Guood tried to lead the local resistance against the occupation inRamadi, but turned against the same resistance group when its membersrejected him as a leader because they considered him a corrupt thief.
Nor is the reader aware that today, Sheikh Fassal al-Guood lives in the"Green Zone" and happily talks to reporters from behind the concrete blast walls, and that his power in Al-Anbar now equals exactly nothing.
I contacted author and media critic Norman Solomon and asked him what he thought of this AP story.
"The holes in this story beg for questions that it does not raise, much less answer," he wrote. "For instance: What are the past, present and hoped-for financial relationships between the quoted 'tribal leader' on the one hand and the US and Iraqi governments on the other? Are there any indications that money has changed hands? Is a mercenary arrangement being set up? Is this part of the Bush administration's strategy to get more Iraqis to kill each other rather than have Iraqis killing American troops - aka 'As the Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down?' Isn't there a good chance that such arrangements will actually fuel civil war in Iraq rather than douse its already horrific flames?"

We were already highlighting the story because Mia noted it in an e-mail this morning. But in terms of ignoring "an important story" -- as the visitor stated -- I'm sure I miss many things several times a day by accident (and I'm sure there are many things left out of the snapshot that others might think are important but I don't and anyone I'm talking to on the phone doesn't) but we covered the 'report' when it appeared in the Times on Monday written by Times' reporters. If I don't trust something (or am warned against it), it doesn't make it up at this site. Something's will make that it shouldn't. But, for instance, this morning Richard A. Oppel Jr. is quoting US military officials who assert the false claim that houses were not set on fire intentionally. I don't believe that and it's now how it was reported yesterday (nor how it was conveyed to me on the phone yesterday), so we didn't quote that from Oppel's article. We instead quoted Barnes & Moore and noted their section on the fires. Oppel's very careful to note this is an assertion by others (why he doesn't include the fact that the assertion flies in the face of eye witness accounts and previous reporting, I have no idea) but I wasn't comfortable excerpting that spin here and didn't.

The visitor feels that I was afraid to question the lie. I wasn't afraid to. I did so on Monday.
The visitor also states that anyone who cares about Iraq would link to Dahr Jamail. (A point I agree with.) And then goes on to urge that this site put him on "your blogroll." It's called "permalinks" here because this isn't a "blog" (and we've covered that before so I won't repeat the explanation again). But besides being called "permalinks," Dahr Jamail was added to it in November of 2004 (the same month this site began). His site is called "Iraq Dispatches" and it's high at the top -- most sites listed are listed in the order they were added. (Community sites lept to the top in April of 2005. They are sites by community members that started after this site did.)

So to recap, we did address the mythical story and did so last Monday. We do highlight Dahr Jamail regularly (a google search would have demonstrated that -- and we don't just highlight what he writes, we also highlight his radio appearances). Iraq Dispatches (Jamail's site) is on our permalinks and has been since the month this site started.

If you missed it, Kat's latest went up yesterday -- "Kat's Korner: 'Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?'".

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, September 22, 2006

Kat's Korner: "Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?"

Kat: On the cover of FutureSex /LoveSounds Little Justy Timberlake looks like a young Brian Austin Green having a snit fit -- as though Mommy told him he couldn't sleep with danger and he responded, "Mommy, May I Pet With Danger?"

Yes, folks, that's how weak it is. It's not even fit to be the soundtrack to the infamous Tori Spelling/Ivan Sergei woman-in-jeporady Lifetime "thriller."

You'll note it's called "FutureSex" and, if and when he finally gets some, he might have something to share on the topic. "SexyBack" is not worth sharing -- except for a laugh. With a vocal that sounds like Grace Jones far too tired to pull up to the bumper and music that sounds like "What Is Love?" coming out of a fuzz box, "SexyBack" is sure to entice the virgins to the dance floor as the latest Peter Pan of the music world promises you can whip him if he's naughty -- which, judging by the lyrical content, largely means pull him over your knee when he picks his nose in public or uses a swear word that you just know he doesn't even grasp.

This is the dance music that gave disco it's bad name. Sexless, mechanical and, worst of all, limp, Justy as wanna be savior of sex can look forward to the crucifiction but for all the wrong reasons. As one song after another has you visualizing the rhythmic-impaired duo of Steve and Doug Butabi, you grasp that even if his "trouser snake" functions, he has no idea what to do with it. ("Trouser snake" is the name he gave it repeatedly, in the press, during the last marketing blitz while trying to pin the nickname off on "girls" -- most "girls" don't use terms like "trouser snake" but it may be popular with some gay males.) So it's probably just as well that he spends a lot of time "hoping" as opposed to doing.

We had some professional virgins in my high school as well. Like Justy, they tried to talk "sexy" and just ended up looking like "nerds," "turkeys" and "spazzes." Having suffered through the invasion of the Disney Kids and lost all perspective of sex as an act (as opposed to play acting), a lot of people are lapping this crap up.

"I think that she knows, I think she knows" he repeats incessantly in "Love Stoned" (before offering the most effete "Now dance" instruction) and you're left to remember all the boys who carried their text books clutched close to their chests in the high school halls, whose notes left in your school locker would provide hilarity to everyone you read them to.

It's fitting that he's always hoping from a distance. This is the boy who tours with Mommy, rolls spiffs with her (You so bad, Justy, You so bad!), and may excite those who want to Mommy him (or Daddy him) but will leave those desiring sex wanting.

To shore up his someday manhood, he shouts out "girl" and "girls" every chance he can --working harder to dispell the rumors than George Michael on the Faith tour and Michael Jackson in the unconvincing "The Way You Make Me Feel" video combined. He also brings onboard some rappers and, as Dak-Ho said, "At least Elvis had the decency to just rip off." Justy's not content with that. He wants to take a thug posse and make 'em come off like the Down-Low chapter of NAMBLA.

Speaking of the down low, in a recent attempt to up-market himself, Justy told Rolling Stone (Issue 1009) of the now out, former bandmate Lance Bass, "I'd be lying if I said we didn't all know. It was never weird, though, and it was never spoken about." The US military's excuse is Don't-Ask-Don't-Tell, what's the excuse for the boy who'd have you believe he's bringing sexy back? How do you do that anyway? How do you avoid that topic for years? And having done that (if, as he said, he did), how do you congratulate yourself for that -- for refusing to share someone's life?

Justy can't bring sexy back for a number of reasons. First of all, the only place sex was absent was in the Disney Kid's music. Second of all, you can't run from sexuality and claim to embrace sex. Mommy may get giggles over her claim that "I Had Justin First" but what you're dealing with is a stunted boy.

A very stunted boy who spends his vocal time when he could be getting some (what he wants you to desperately believe), wishing he was getting some. It's there in "Sexy Back," it's there throughout. In "Chop Me Up" (which may reveal some fondness for mutilation and dominance), you get why Justy gets none. It takes a special form of sexual incompetence and/or dysfunction to think name checking Tylenol in a song is sexy.

Worse yet is the only song that has nothing to do with sexual longing. After spending the entire album trying to pick up women (but apparently failing, quell surprise) with bribes of "backstage" and "V.I.P" and champagne, Justy suddenly wants to be 'real,' you feel him?, for the song "Losing My Way" (which should also be the name of the CD).

If there's anything less realistic than Justy having sex it's Justy as a 'working man' with a nasty crack habit. Better he stick to being the boy dreaming of someday having sex. Even in the so-called "Summer Love," there's no relationship other than what's going on in Justy's head ("I can't wait to fall in love with you" he repeats over and over to the woman he's apparently too scared to talk to). The sterilized "Until The End Of Time" may have Justy finally teamed with a woman (questionable due to the requests of "everybody sing") but there's no indication that they've done more than hug. Those who've seen Splendor in the Grass can skip the CD and content themselves with picturing the impending crackup of the sexually frustrated.

Point? Justy's no cherry poppin' daddy. Justy may ask "Mommy, may I pet with danger?" but the only thing working up a sweat is his palm.

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 22, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq, the 2700 mark for US military fatalities in Iraq looms ever closer (2697), the Defense Department learns (again) that the press makes the best lobbyist, and, as Democrats continue to run from Iraq, activists continue to speak out and organize.

Starting with peace news, Mima Mohammed (Los Angelse Times) reports on Helga Aguayo's statements regarding her husband, war resister Agustin Aguayo, who decided to self-check out September 2, 2006: "My husband has never broken a law and I am proud of him. He doesn't want to support the war -- he cannot do so conscientiously. He is a conscientious objector, but the Army forced him to become a resister." Helga Aguayo was speaking Wednesday at Camp Democracy (which continues free and open to the public through October 1st) in Washington, DC. and stated that her husband will turn himself in but he will not go to Iraq.

Also reporting on war resistance and Camp Democracy, Tim Wheeler (People's World Weekly) covers war resister Ricky Clousing's speech from this past weekend where Clousing noted what he saw "an innocent Iraqi killed before my eyes by U.S. troops. I saw the abuse of power that goes without accountability" and notes some of the torture techniques he observed and how Bully Boy "is seeking legal cover. . . . He is seeking another loophole to continue what they have been doing." Ricky Clousing announced at the Seattle Veterans for Peace conference in August that he would be turning himself in after self-checking out. He did so and that military has charged him with desertion and the war drags on . . .

While the military gets all the money they can grab (that's at the top, it never flows down to the enlisted). AP reports that today $70 billion more for quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan were added to the trough "as they wrapped up talks on a $447 billion Pentagon funding bill. The additional war frunds would bring the total approved by Congress for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [. . .*] to more than $500 billion, with another installment likely to come next spring."

The bumper sticker reads: "Bully Boy illegal invaded Iraq and all I got was a mountain of debt."
"*"? AP feels the need to insert "since September 11, 2001" into the sentence for some unknown reason. Are they attempting to repeat the discredited "link" between Iraq and 9-11? Clearly Congress approved no war spending measures on September 11th. AP also notes that the Defense Department got what it wanted and AP ties it to those reports of an overstretched (economically) military. Again we ask the question of Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon's report (New York Times) today:
"Is it news or is it fundraising?"

AP also editorializes with this: "Even opponents of the war tend to support the measure because it supports U.S. troops in harm's way." Actually, cutting off the spending would cut the war. But don't rock the conventional 'wisdom' boat, don't tip the boat over. Which is apparently the m.o. for Dems when it comes to the November elections. Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) reports that the big plan revolves around stressing the economy and ignoring Iraq: "In poll after poll, voters place Iraq well above the economy when asked which issue will most affect their vote this year. And when you combine concerns about the war with concerns about terrorism/national security, it's the economy that is 'a distant reality.' Yet Democrats keep returning to the same domestic-issues-uber-alles thinking that cost them the elections in 2002 and 2004. They can't really believe that people are more interested in raising the minimum wage, middle class tax relief, and college affordability than they are in who's going to keep them from being blown up, can they? The Dems are like a bunch of crack addicts who know that the stuff is killing them, but keep reaching for the pipe."

This as Lolita C. Baldor (AP) reports that James Thurman (US "Maj. Gen.") loosens his grip on reality (further?) and claims that attacks on civilians in Iraq are down. Well pay it forward, Thurman. America can't afford universal health care but can pay $500 billion (and counting) for wars? Turman also stated that, "As we clean up the streets, we find a city capable of starting to function properly." Street cleaners? That's what US troops are being kept in Iraq for? No, they aren't street cleaners and Thurman needs to work a little harder at his illustrations (working harder at capturing reality might cause a blood vessel to explode so we'll accept the fact that he's an Operation Happy Talker and move on.)

In the real world (which Thurman is welcome to visit), Patrick Cockburn (Independent of London) reminds: "The pervasive use of torture is only one aspect of the utter breakdown of government across Iraq outside the three Kurdish provinces in the north. In July and August alone, 6,599 civilians were killed, the UN says." The torture, the UN has stated, is being committed by a variety of groups including 'government forces.' Tim Reid (Times of London) reports that the White House takes offense to the UN report and denies it. We all await Condi Rice trotting out her "No one could have guessed" line yet again.


AFP reports, that in Baghdad, two bomb detector/defusers were killed when a bomb they were attempting to defuse exploded. Reuters reports a civilian dead from a roadside bomb in Latifiyaand sixteen wounded from bombs in Baghdad.


AFP reports that four Iraqi police officers were shot dead in Baquba. AP reports that attacks on mosques and homes resulted in four shooting deaths in Baghdad. China's People's Daily notes that four houses were set on fire in the attacks. Reuters reports one civilian shot dead in Kirkuk and that Nomass Atout shot dead "near his house in Diwaniya".


KUNA reports that 48 corpses were discovered in Baghdad today. AP reports a corpse ("blindfolded . . . bound") was discovered in Musayyib. Reuters reports two corpses discovered in Mosul and a woman's corpse found in Kirkuk. That should be 64 deaths reported, counting corpses, thus far today.

Returning to peace news, Paul Hogarth (Beyond Chron) reports, " About 25 activists gathered at the Office of Supervisor Chris Daly yesterday to display the Code Pink Peace Ribbon Quilt, and to kick off the Declaration of Peace Week of Action. The Declaration, which has been endorsed by over 180 peace and justice organizations throughout the country has three basic platforms: (1) bring our troops home now, (2) establish a plan to end the war in Iraq, and (3) prevent future U.S. invasions such as Iran, Syria or North Korea."

NYT: "Strained, Army Looks for Relief From the Ground" (Thom Shanker & Michael R. Gordon)

This morning's New York Times features only one article on Iraq. 38 corpses discovered in Baghdad and other violence apparently not being judged newsworthy or the fact the announcements of multiple deaths of US soldiers either apparently. (The count include a Thursday death in Baghdad, roadside bomb, announced this morning by the US military.) Which is strange, on the latter, since the one story is about US troops.

Thom Shanker and Michael R. Gordon team up for "Strained, Army Looks for Relief From the Ground" and it would be easy to credit the readability factor solely to co-writer Thom Shanker but, as noted several times before, war pornographers love and know their numbers. Working from John Abizaid's remarks to Congress and a report "provided to The New York Times," Shanker and Gordon address the issue of deployment for a military already heavily taxed. (Actually, it's the American people that are heavily taxed to pay for the military. But I'm referring to troops on the ground, not the pork that is Congressional funding of the military. And the pork never rolls down to the enlisted.)

Shanker and Gordon write: "The Army had to offer generous new enlistment bonuses of up to $40,000 to attract recruits into such dangerous jobs as operating convoys in Iraq" which begs the question of how low was Gordo's signing bonus for the book (which really didn't meet sales expectations) if we're to assume $40,000 is "generous" for risking life and limb?

The Army obviously leaked the "internal document" and the paper won't ask the obvious question of whether or not the leak came to address a serious issue or just to provide more pork for the already bloated (and inefficient) military structure. (As Norman Solomon has pointed out many times, the Times can call for an end to pork on all things non-military only.)

Possibly the announcement (see Robert Burns' AP report) that the army had its best recruiting year since 1997 prompted the leak of the internal document? (That's an announcement. It's not fact. Numbers come out after, long after, the announcement. And in 1997, troops weren't engaged in war in the numbers that they are today.)

The Times reports that the National Guard is about to be even more taxed. (Would anyone in Congress even notice? Have they really noted thus far?)

In the end the question about the article remains: "Is it news or is it fundraising?"

While the troops are over extended, the Bully Boy (and anyone else occupying the Oval Office prior or in the future) can and will have any war wanted/desired. The talk that Iran won't be next (or any other nation) seems to exist around some notion that the US has all troops on the ground save for one or two still posted to Diego Garcia. It's not reality. The wars wanted (by the White House) will be fought and the notion that the same Bully Boy who has refused to face reality will look at the over-extended nature of the military and take pause belies the non-reality based actions and statements coming out of the White House for the last five-plus years.

Peter Grier addresses the same subject as Shanker and Gordon in "Not coming soon: US troop cuts in Iraq" (Christian Science Monitor):

In recent days, US military commanders have delivered a bleak message about Iraq: The number of American troops there is not likely to be substantially reduced anytime soon.
Yet the current force may have been strained near the breaking point by frequent deployments to the region, say experts. That means in the months to come, the Pentagon could face increased pressure to expand the size of the active-duty Army, or rely even more heavily on call-ups of National Guard and Reserve units.

[. . .]
Late last year, US military officials said they hoped the number of US troops on the ground could be cut to the 100,000 level by the end of 2006. But like so many other US expectations about progress in the region, that turned out to be overly optimistic.

Martha notes Lori Aratani's "Md. Medical Corps Officer Killed by Explosive in Iraq" (Washington Post):

A 23-year-old Medical Service Corps officer from Fort Washington with a passion for books, fishing and music was killed in Iraq this month when an improvised explosive device detonated near her Humvee.
Second Lt. Emily J.T. Perez, a 2001 graduate of Oxon Hill High School, was killed Sept. 12 during combat operations in Al Kifl, Iraq, said Dalena Kanouse, an Army spokeswoman at Fort Hood, Tex., where Perez was based.

Lastly, back to the Times. A member (who also subscribes to the paper -- really if you want a reply you should include that -- I'm not aware if he did) got a reply from an editor about the Amanda Peet issue. (The editor's not named, but I'll assume it was Gregg Brock unless I hear differently.) The Times did run a correction to the error in Bill Carter's September 11th article (see "No, Bill Carter, Amanda Peet is not about to do 'her first television role'" ) and they ran it on September 13th. The member writes he may or may not have gotten that edition (the Times never cares about addressing quality service, though they're forever happy to credit your account -- the editor responding to the member is not the person who should be addressing it but it bears noting that the paper itself seems unconcerned and we've noted that before) but it's supposed to have run on the 13th. I actually packed the last two weeks of the main section of the paper (we're hoping to pull from a number of things for The Third Estate Sunday Review) and the correction is there. It's the eighth of twelth corrections. The member advises, however, that the paper has still not corrected it in the story. We'll deal with why that is the larger problem at The Third Estate Sunday Review and update "The New York Times Doesn't Really Do Corrections" on Sunday (no one's in the mood, with all of yesterday's computer issues/problems, Explorer issues/problems, Blogger/Blogspot issues/problems to do so today).
Hopefully, the paper will have fixed the current problem by then but the fact that it hasn't been fixed means that the feature will be cross-posted here because the problem created addresses an issue that Cedric and I discussed in a roundtable that was posted here. (We discussed a service with regards to the paper and the action or non-action addresses the quality of the service. For those curious, think back to Cedric's comments regarding his nephew.)

Lynda wonders if the e-coli is gone? Tuesday was the first day I felt better. The week prior was non-stop vomiting and the occassional runs -- I didn't see anything on vomiting in the press coverage but it was e-coli (diagnosed) and unless I had e-coli on top of the flu, I find that very strange. On e-coli, please read Kat's "Spinach and how the FDA failed you" from earlier this week and stay away from fresh spinach (and probably refrain from buying canned until the government can assure you that the canning destroys the virus which isn't on the spinach, it's in it).

Oh, the person I'm dictating this to just reminded me there is one more thing. Don't forget Watchdog will be broadcasting today. It'll be interesting to see if, yet again, the biggest story in the media is Katie Couric and her ratings. (That should actually be 'ratings' since Watchdog barked at the wrong thing.) My friend's wondering whether they'll note the large number of TV viewers that elected not to watch the news on September 11th (based on the overnights, see "Yapping Watchdogs Miss The Point")? No, they won't note it. That's my guess.

The e-mail address for this site is

That one-note, wall to wall summer

[This was written Thursday night as part of the "And the war drags on . . . " but Jim, reading over my shoulder, argued it was a stand alone entry.]

In answer to Bonnie's question, when someone participating in the roundtable for the latest gina & krista round-robin launched into a harsh critique of independent media, I (a) wasn't being kind because it came from a friend or (b) wasn't being kind because it was important to let others have their say (mainstream media). I (c) completely agreed with everything that was said. If independent media wants to be taken seriously, then they might need to act serious. We don't see serious in the dropping of Iraq. We don't see serious when someone can't even get the numbers that the UN reported right (in what, I'm guessing, passed for their total contribution to the discussion of Iraq on International Peace Day -- judging from the e-mails that was it, that tidbit). I'd heard those criticism before (both from the person speaking and from others in mainstream media) so I wasn't surprised by them (Gina asked the question, remember, and that's how the topic came up). But, no, I didn't disagree with any point of the critique. And I've stated here before that mainstream media has done a better job covering Iraq then has independent media. It's no contest. You can't win a race you don't run.

On the subject of we're-supposed-to-feel-so-honored-that-____-manged-to-drop-in-a-tidbit-on-Iraq-today, at least 33 members wrote in to complain about the tidbit and how even the dollop couldn't get it right. I really don't have anything to say that members aren't already saying. A number is a number. You can put "estimate" or "approximate" (or some other form or word) in front of it but a number is a number. You can doubt it and note that. But when you say X is the number then X had better be the number. It's one in a long line of mistakes and calls into question something. The committment to Iraq? The committment to the facts? The committment to anything other than self-promotion?

Maybe it calls in all that and more. I have no idea but that figure was reported on Wednesday (and we noted in the snapshot on Wednesday) it was reported by many (if not all) papers in the US today. So not being able to get a widely reported figure right in your ___ seconds of Iraq coverage invites questions. It's exactly that kind of crap, both getting the number wrong and treating such an important story as something to be dispensed with in a few seconds, that leads to the type of criticism of independent media that you read in the round-robin. (If you didn't check your inboxes yet, Friday's round-robin started going out before midnight Thursday. There were nonstop computer problems all day and, due to that, it was decided the round-robin would go out as soon as it was completed, while there were no computer problems.)

I agree with the critique. I wish I didn't. I wish there were all these examples I could use to rebutt it but there aren't examples. There are exceptions. And that's the sorry state of independent media which, a few years back, was breaking their neck to report and to hold the mainstream accountable. I am very glad the view was shared and invited the person into the roundtable (with Krista and Gina's permission) knowing the critique would come up if the topic was brought up by either Gina or Krista.

I think it's important for those critiques to be made (and independent media certainly critiques mainstream media) and you can read it and decide whether you agree or not. There will be someone in the roundtable we do Friday night for Saturday's round-robin who wants to offer a critique from the mainstream perspective as well. If the current critique offered strikes any as specific (or too specific), get ready because, after tonight's roundtable, Gina asked me to check if any upcoming guests would like to offer a critique of independent media as well? One does, the other will probably speak in general terms.

If it's shocking (I don't think Bonnie was shocked when she read it -- in her e-mail, she was commenting on the fact that I only made brief statements and that was due to the fact that other than piping up "Yeah!" every few seconds, there really wasn't much to say, it was covered and then some without me) it may be because the mainstream doesn't critique independent media (they can, and too often, denouce it, but in terms of a critique that goes beyond generic broadsides, you don't see that) and the watchdogs are perfectly willing to look the other way (when not playing favorites -- as was noted tonight). But rest assured, if the mainstream media had taken the summer off from Iraq and independent media had in any way covered it, we'd be getting commentaries galore about how "mainstream media failed!"

"They failed!," we'd be told over and over.

Independent media can (and has) acted on a check on the mainstream. But that requires work and, obviously, when someone can't even get a widely reported figure correct in their sole bit of Iraq coverage, then they're not up to the work required. At this site, I've been able in the past to note "For a better look at this, see . . ." or words to that effect. I haven't been able to do that in months (with few exceptions) and that's because independent media has no focus. It's not "diverse," it's scattered. It's a travelogue, speaking in terms of geography and topic.

As though when we see today's broadcast or magazine issue, we're all supposed to care about this or that intensely and next go-round it's something else with no connection to what came before and no follow up. (What Folding Star has rightly dubbed "Issue of the month" coverage.)

Problems abound all over the world. But you do need to have follow ups and there's very little follow up these days. It's as thought 100 items made the big list and, bit by bit, each will be covered in a scattershot manner. If you're a domestic magazine or program (and don't push that crap about international because you broadcast in Australia because Australian community members or more critical of a program that broadcasts there than are members from any other country -- it has to do with the ignoring of the Jake Kovco story -- in fact, let me leave parentheticals for that.)

If you live in Australia, and you're led to believe that a program covers the world, you may wonder "What world?" Australian members can not believe that the supposed world program never covered Jake Kovco. He was their first Iraq fatality. His coffin made it home before his body did. The Defence Minister (Brendan Nelson) issued one press briefing after another (even though he was warned from the start that the facts were not known). Two people were in the room when he died and both claim not to have seen anything. Soldier 14 (Steve Carr) tried to explain away the fact that his DNA was on Kovco's gun (the gun that killed Jake Kovco) with a 'guess' that was shot down by an expert witness. No procedures were followed, not the apparently mythical buddy-system, not the preserving of evidence (the room was cleaned, Kovco's clothes were destroyed, statements were not taken, go down the list).

This was, and is, a big story in Australia. So if you're covering the 'world' and glad to have an Australian audience, you might need to have covered that topic. The hearing took testimony (and went shooting on a firing range) for three months while Australian community members waited and waited for someone to go where the silences are. They waited in vain. In the meantime, they e-mailed to note Italy, England, pick any country, being covered by said program and the fact that Jake Kovco never got covered. As Skip pointed out, since "____ regularly mentions that it's broadcast in Australia, how could they miss the country's biggest story on the war?"

No idea. In terms of this site, Australian members madeus all aware of the story at the start happened and it was covered for that reason. We'll note the report and anything that Judy and Martin Kovco (his parents) or Ben Kovco (his step-brother) says to the press. His widow held a news conference to ask for her privacy so we'll avoid that aspect. (We also may do a post on Jake Kovco regardless of whether there are any developments. If I don't do it here, I'll take it to the round-robin for a column.)

But members drive what gets noted here. This isn't top-down or, Daneil Okrent-like, "What I wanted to talk about . . ." And that does relate to independent media's summer vacation because, as the polls indicated, what America wanted to talk about was the Iraq war. Independent media did cover some worthy topics this summer. But it dropped the war. You can't do that. You can cover anything (region or topic) and do so without offending your audience provided you remember to cover your basics as well. That didn't happen.

So I do agree, very strongly, with the critique offered and expect the critique in the next roundtable to be even more blistering. Bonnie also noted a member's column on why they were not renewing their subscription to The Nation and wondered if I felt the same? I feel that ___ needs to do what he thinks is right for him. The Nation is not speaking to him and he's sad about that after subscribing for so long. It's an expensive magazine. If it's not speaking to you, you shouldn't subscribe. Not every voice speaks to everyone. In fact, most of them don't. It's sad when you realize that something you valued no longer has the same value. I came to that conclusion over another magzine that I let lapse last year (Teen Politics -- it's new name in spirit). Myself, I'll keep subscribing to The Nation and feel it did some of the better print coverage of Iraq. (Though I will agree that it and others took a summer vacation. I don't believe that it was the worst offender or even in the top ten.) There are many things in the magazine that speak to me. But I do understand where ___ is coming from. I see his point and, even if I didn't, when someone feels that strongly they shouldn't be spending money on something that has no value to them.

This summer was so bad that there are things (people, sites, etc.) that I doubt we can ever note here again because their performance was so poor that it outraged too many members. The community comes before ___ or ___. There's a program I continue to follow when I have the time but I won't note it here because members appear to be done with it. But in some form, in some degree, that's true of many.

Which is the really sad fact about this summer. Independent media didn't just blow it on Iraq, they blew it for themselves. They'd done some outstanding work and were really building to an even larger audience. But then they wanted to lecture instead of inform and they wanted to cover every topic but the ones that their audience/readership wanted covered. They knew better than their audience. It was a case of, "I don't care that you wanted carrots! I served squash today, yesterday, all last week, and I'll serve it again tomorrow!"

In this case, "squash" would be Israel's actions which turned many members off of public radio because, to focus on KPFA which I listen to, you got it in Democracy Now, you got it in The Morning Show, you got it in an afternoon program, then came Flashpoints, then (following the evening news), several hours of live coverage on . . . Israel. Only Flashpoints has bragging rights on the topic. Only they seriously devote time to the topic day in and day out. It's their beat. But, if you listened to KPFA, you could get an hour of it on Democracy Now (which truly didn't seeme to grasp that there were other stories), followed by a half hour segment (or two) on The Morning Show, followed by Democracy Now being repeated (I agree with Kat, that's now created a hole in the schedule and should be pulled for one airing a day only) and, in fact, your only break from the non-stop topic (it was worse than cable glomming on one story) would be the music programming (though some music programming in the evening was interrupted because of the live coverage of Israel's actions).

This community was outraged by the Israeli government's actions. But in terms of independent media, most stopped listening because who needs round-the-clock, wall-to-wall on one and only one subject for five to six weeks? You heard the same guests going show to show on the same topic, day after day. (And we'll again note, Dennis Bernstein and Nora Barrows Friedman, who should be seen as Pacifica's in-house experts on the topic because they cover the topic, it's their beat, weren't among those guests. Nora Barrows Friedman was in and out of the occupied territories throughout the summer but, for some reason, no one seemed to think to ask her to be guest.) Kat dubbed it Look What Israel's Done Now, Mike wondered if he still lived in Boston or had moved to Beruit without knowing it (which is a WBAI critique, that's what he listened to -- what he listened to, past tense). To listen to the wall-to-wall, we were supposed to believe that there was no other story anywhere else, that apparently things had ceased to occur in Iraq or Afghanistan, that the peace movement (outside of those demonstrating against Israel) had, like independent media, taken the summer off.

Backlashes emerged. Not one, but several. There was, in this community, a backlash regarding the one-note quality of it all (where it was the sole story). Outside the community, there was a backlash from those inclined to look the other way and support the Israeli government regardless. And there was the backlash (which included Kara and Brad in this community) from the fact that the coverage 'took off' only when Lebanon was involved. The 'catch up' nature of noting (often as an aside) the destruction in the occupied territories that actually was phase one of the conflict reminded some of the fact that yet again anything can happen in Palestine and it's not deemed important enough to cover (and the apology offered on air to one guest speaking for Israel is something that host may never live down -- and maybe shouldn't if that host wants to self-present as a journalist).

So it wasn't a proud moment for independent media. And it's no real surprise that in the wall-to-wall, Cindy Sheehan and Camp Casey were ignored, Troops Home Fast was ignored, the trip to Jordan was ignored, the Article 32 hearing in Iraq into the death of Abeer and her family (and the rape of Abeer) was ignored, the Article 32 hearing of Ehren Watada was ignored, CODEPINK's action in Austin regarding Karl Rove was ignored, the June discovery that the US military was keeping count of Iraqis who died, . . . Go down the list. It's a long, long list just focusing on Iraq.

Headlines at the top of hour don't show a dedication to coverage. What you emphasize (as indies have slammed the Times rightly for, "matter of emphasis") sends a message. And the message that was sent was "Watch us glom on one topic and only one topic, day after day, week after week."

It got to the point that the burn out was so severe that they probably turned off many people who had started off agreeing with the coverage. It probably didn't help that when they briefly moved from their only main topic it was to do something as foolish as offer "cook for your man!" and "get and keep a man!" which they tried to pass off as feminism. But it was one glaring failure after another. So if someone from the mainstream wants to participate in a roundtable for the round-robin and offer critiques of independent media, you can read my limited responses during the roundtable as agreement with the points they're making.

In terms of the mainstream media, we'll note that the Times pulled Sabrina Tavernise and others out of Iraq to cover the topic de jour. But it's also true that Paul von Zielbaur and Damien Cave remained covering the beat for the paper (sometimes did so quite well, sometimes didn't, but they were covering it and that's more than can be said for independent media) and you could usually count on an article from James Glanz or Edward Wong every couple of days as well.

Independent media did wall-to-wall on Israel and it became a case of "You will eat this squash."
A child and parent power struggle doesn't usually end well but grown adults won't usually engage in one with their media outlets. When the mainstream elected to play dumb and cheerlead the illegal war in Iraq, people sought out alternative media. This summer demonstrated the need for an alternative to alternative media.

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

And the war drags on . . .

BAGHDAD, Sep 20 (IPS) - Renewed raids at Iraqi homes by joint U.S.-Iraqi security forces are angering Iraqis -- while failing to improve the worsening security situation.
"Operation Forward Together should be called 'To Hell Together'," 53-year-old Hamid Fassal, an estate broker from the Dora region of Baghdad told IPS, referring to the major U.S.-Iraqi joint security campaign launched in June. "They should be ashamed of what's going on after four years of plans and such huge expenditure. The result is only more deaths and more agony for all Iraqis."
U.S. troops accompanied by Iraqi soldiers have conducted raids across much of the Sunni region of Iraq in search of death squads. Several Iraqis say they are surprised about the areas searched because they say U.S. forces know that the majority of death squads are located in the Shia areas.
"I do not understand what they are really looking for and whether they are doing it right," Salim al-Juboori of the Sherq Journal in Baghdad told IPS. "They searched Amiriya, Adhamiyah, Dora and other places in Baghdad where citizens are the victims of gangs who come from other places under government flags, and during curfew hours."
Residents of the Amiriya neighbourhood of Baghdad recently faced a week-long blockade after U..S. troops raided more than 6,000 houses. Residents had to face checkpoints and body searches.
"They detained many innocent people and robbed lightweight valuable materials from the houses they raided," a member of the Amiriya local council told IPS. "It seems they were searching for gold, cash and expensive mobile devices. They know very well where to search for criminals, so why destroy Amiriya?"

The above, noted by Eddie, is from Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily's "Home Raids Provoke Increased Unrest" (IPS via Iraq Dispatches). It's one 'crackdown' after another and there is no normal life in Iraq. And the digging of the moat (which the US' latest spin is that it harkens back to earlier times in Iraq -- as though reliving worse than the Saddam Hussein reign wasn't punishment enough -- Together . . . Backward) and reducing entry to the city to twenty-eight paths won't provide security and it won't result in anything resembling life for the people of Baghdad. But elections are coming up (in the United States) and something drastic must be done for another quick-fix.

Some American voters bought the nonsense of "democracy" when laughable elections were held in Iraq. Maybe a 'moat' will slow the dying briefly enough to swing those swing voters? Cosmetic fixes and the reality is that (see snapshot) Italy handed off their responsibilites today and there was no talk of "cut and run" no talk of terrorists 'embolden,' no talk of 'stay the course.' Instead it was hailed as progress by the US ambassador to Iraq and the commander of the US military in Iraq. Progress involves others leaving but the US staying. "Progress" in Iraq happy talked the usual suspects today.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Thursday, the American troop fatality stood at 2677. Tonight? 2694. (52 for the month, 3 British soldiers have died thus far in September and 1 "other.") 17 more since last Thursday. Some weeks, it's two or three or more, some weeks it's a double-digit number. Regardless of the quanity in the "count," the number always rises. As the US spends more time in the Iraq war than they did in WWII, people die. Iraqis and others. And the deaths may be just numbers to those lucky enough not to be personally effected and lacking in empathy (like Colin Powell) but the deaths are felt and so are the wounds. Colleen Jenkins and Jamal Thalji (St. Petersburg Times) explore life after the wounds for the family of Josh Cooley as his mother and brother prepare to go to court to strip his wife of power of attorney. Or there's Jake Kovco's family dealing not only with the April 21st Baghdad death but with a military inquiry that was a joke
and brought no answers despite lasting months. (The finding of the board should come sometime in October if not sooner. Suicide has been ruled out.)

Stories like those (and there are many) could be talked about but it's much better for the Rangels and Pelosis to line up behind the Bully Boy. Condi Rice says Hugo Chavez' comments on Bully Boy don't merit a response. Fortunately for her, some Dems need to prove . . . something. So Pelosi calls him a 'thug' (Chavez, not the Bully Boy) and Rangel makes you remember that if the Dems don't reclaim a House in November's elections, it's not all bad, Charlie Rangel will be gone.

The words of Hugo Chavez must be blasted, apparently, and the US administration's attempts to overthrow him ignored. The cowards are on parade in full flight and it's no surprise that we're still in Iraq. I believe it was the Times' own gossip in residence, Helene Cooper, who offered an "only in America" take on the UN speech -- only here could Chavez speak his mind and not be thrown in jail. Jail's not really necessary when the self-righteous rush forward to grandstand. Because, apparently, at heart they're all invaders.

Which might be a good time to remember the (Dem) party line that Dems were tricked into invading Iraq wasn't true then and it's not true today. Pelosi's statements today might be her most laughable were it not for her public appearance in California trying to justify the bases being built in Iraq as being not permanent because, golly, gee, goodness, nothing is really ever permanent, is it? Cowardice, I think that may be permanent.

And greed, like party hacks (of any political party), will always be with us as well.

But the reality is that people knew better before the illegal war began and they know better now. So maybe that's why the Rangels and Pelosis (and sadly the Harkins) rush to weigh in on the 'water cooler topic' which is also known as 'responding' as opposed to 'leading.' When Condi Rice does a better job of staying in action-mode than do Democratic "leaders," it's obvious why the party continues to struggle. They're all stricken with that sound-byte fever and in the meantime, America's thirsty for answers.

And tired of waiting for leadership to come from above (referring to Congress, not spiritually).
Fortunately, not everyone waits for opposition to the war to hit 100% before doing something or finding their voice. From Sue Anne Pressley Montes' "Antiwar Push Starts Near White House; 34 Arrested" (Washington Post):

"Today, here in front of the White House, we kick off a week of intensive antiwar action throughout the nation," said Leslie Cagan, national coordinator for United for Peace and Justice, which she described as the country's largest antiwar coalition. "It is time to end the war in Iraq. It is time to bring all of the troops home."

It's direct, it's to the point, and demonstrates more courage than you'll find in either House of Congress most days.

I had to leave the house of conformity
In order to make art
I had to be more or less true
To learn to tell the two apart
And I had to leave the house of fear
Just about as soon as I could crawl
Ignore my face on the wanted posters
Stuck to the post office wall
-- "Shroud" written by Ani DiFranco, off her Reprieve album

A song that those rushing to be 'respectable' in the eyes of the Robert Novaks (he apparently sets the term -- e.g. he calls someone "nonpartisan" and, therefore, they are). Look for a lot of the usual useless types to weigh in on the very 'hot' topic of what Chavez said -- a topic that matters oh-so-little to most of our daily lives -- because it's so much easier than addressing something as serious as Iraq.

There were 13 paragraphs that followed. Jim was reading over my shoulder and begged that it be made its own entry. So that will go up at some point tomorrow. In addition, you'll have Ruth's Report and a review by Kat. I'll cover the Times in the morning and try to do an Iraq snapshot. (Today's was delayed due to multiple problems -- including Blogger/Blogspot going down. There's a longer snapshot that I dictated which was sent in and may hit the site at some point. If it does, we'll change the time stamp on it and put it ahead of the current snapshot for Thursday.) (And Bonnie, your e-mail isn't being ignored. The 13 paragraphs are a reply to your e-mail. It will go up tomorrow.)

We'll close with Pru's highlight, Matthew Cookson's "Military families will defy peace camp ban" (Great Britain's Socialist Worker):

Families of British soldiers have told Socialist Worker they will set up a peace camp outside this week's Labour Party conference in Manchester, despite attempts to ban them by the city's council.
The council, which is controlled by Labour, claims the camp, organised by Military Families Against the War (MFAW), is unacceptable on "health and safety" grounds.
The families, relatives of soldiers who have died or are currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, were set to start building the camp in Manchester's Albert Square on Thursday of this week.
Council leader Sir Richard Leese claimed the authority had a "proud record" of supporting protest and opposed the war on Iraq.
Rose Gentle, whose son Gordon Gentle died in Iraq in 2004, told Socialist Worker, "It is really disgraceful. The council says Manchester is a 'city of peace', but it allows a warmonger like Tony Blair to go and speak there -- while trying to ban the peace camp of the families of soldiers.
"They don't want us to go and talk about our sons. We think that the Labour Party has got the council to do this.
"It is too embarrassing to Blair. He hides every time a British military family appears. But we are not backing down. We will set up our camp as we planned on Thursday afternoon.
"More families have been saying they are going to the camp now after the attempt to ban it. A family from Paris have phoned to say they are coming over to make their point.
"They have boys serving in the Nato force in Afghanistan.
"The people of Manchester are behind us. Our camp is major news in the city.
"A poll in the Manchester Evening News on Monday of this week showed that 79 percent of people supported our right to hold the camp.
"When Blair was in Israel he met the families of Israeli soldiers who had been kidnapped, but he has refused to meet us. It is one rule for some people, and another for other people.
"I hope Labour MPs come and stand with us and show their support."
Rose has been a thorn in the side of Blair for some time. But some of the families involved in the Manchester protest are new to the anti-war movement.
Wendy McCartney said, "I will be attending the peace camp because I have a son in Iraq. I am from a ­longstanding military family.
"I am proud of that connection, but not so sure about the government's decisions. We have a democratic right to question its decisions, which I feel we're being denied.
"I am concerned with the way that the troops are being used, and bereaved families are ignored."
Peter Brierley, who lost his son Shaun Brierley in Iraq in 2003, said, "I expected there to be objections to our camp, but the police are supporting the application.
"The council claim that there are health and safety problems over the lack of running water and toilets. But we have overcome these problems before.
"There have been MFAW camps in Trafalgar Square and outside Downing Street before. They have no legitimate reason to ban us.
"The only reason this is happening is that a Labour council is protecting Mr Blair. He is on the ropes and this is his last speech to a party conference. The Labour Party is closing ranks to protect Blair.
"We're supposed to be in Iraq and Afghanistan transmitting democracy, but our rights are being taken away here. We have a right to demonstrate and complain about the government.
"We are trying to push the point that the troops should come home. There are almost daily casualties in Afghanistan and the majority of the population have turned against them."
Lynda Holmes, whose son is in the army, said, "Blair will reap what he has sown. It is about time he got his comeuppance."
She added that the attempt to ban the families' protest had backfired. "So many people are hostile to the ban," she said.
For more information and to send a letter of protest to Manchester City Council go to
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Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 21st, 2006, International Peace Day established by the United Nations November 30, 1981 and Bully Boy offers 'alternative programming' as the chaos and violence continues in Iraq, as the press learns that 'suicide bomber' is an imprecise term, as those doing the torture includes 'government forces,' as the US military fatality count approaches the 2700 mark and the so-called coalition of the willing continues to shrink with the US forces left to sing,
"To be the last to leave, the last to be gone, stolen from the ones who hung on to it" ("Fireflies," written by Stevie Nicks, available on Fleetwood Mac Live).

The BBC reports that Manfred Nowak (anti-torture expert for the United Nations and Austrian law professor) has stated that torture is not only on the rise in Iraq but it may be happening more frequently than when Saddam Huseein was in power. Nowak's statements were based on a UN report which found that "Victims come from prisons run by US-led multinational forces as well as by the ministries of interior and defence and private militias".

This as Reuters notes: "The Sunni religious organisation, the Muslim Scholars Association, accused unnamed militia and government forces of killing five people in the village of al-Intsar, on the northeastern outskirts of Baghdad late on Wednesday. The group said others were kidnapped and houses burned."

Richard A. Oppel Jr. (New York Times) reported today, in Baghdad alone, at least "5,106 people . . . died violent deathd during July and August". Which is no doubt why, as reported by Sudarsan Raghavan's (Washington Post), The Giddiest Gabor in the Green Zone, William Caldwell IV, US military spokesperson, announced the obvious, after the UN had, that there was "a spike in execution-style murders" and "many bodies found had clear signs of being bound, tortured and executed." Way to stay ahead of the curve, but then he wouldn't look like the third guest, the loopy, bra-less one, if he couldn't state the obvious long after it had already been noted, would he?

Meanwhile Reuters reports that at least 38 corpses were discovered in Baghdad with most bearing signs of torture. Bombings? Reuters reports that a rocket attack on a home in Baghdad killed four and left five wounded, while bombs killed eight in Baghdad and left eighteen wounded and, in Diwaniya, a roadside bomb took the lives of two Iraq soldiers. Shootings? Reuters reports 3 shot dead in Kerbala and three police officers in Baquba. In a combination of the two (mortar attack, followed by gunfire) AP reports the deaths of six Iraqi police officers when their Baghdad police station was attacked.

AFP reports that the so-called coalition of the willing continues to suffer from shrinkage as Italy hands over Dhi Qar to Iraqi forces and, low and behold, there are no reports the Italy's actions "embolden" terrorism or that their action prevents "democracy." Quite the contrary, a US military press release credited to Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
maintains that the handover and Italy's withdrawal predicated on the handover is "another sign of progress." Progress is possible, apparently, for all but the U.S. and England. Reuters identifies Italy as "the last major Western European ally" for England and the US and notes that an Italian soldier died just "hours" before the handover raising the total number of Italian soldiers who died in the war to 32.

The US military fatality count continues to rise and the US military announced today that a US soldier died in Baghdad Wednesday from a roadside bomb while today a soldier died from wounds received while fighting in al Anbar province. The announcements come as the US military fatality count is at 2,693 (seven away from the 2700 mark) and as the AP reports questions remain in another Wednesday US military death in Baghdad ("Sgt. 1st Class Charles Jason Jones, 29, of Lawrenceburg", Kentucky ) which is currently classified as due to "non combat-related causes".

"Suicide bombers" and "suicide car bombers"? The AP reports that term is far from precise and that the Iraqi Defense Ministry issued a warning today based upon the fact that people are being kidnapped, released and then used as unknowing bombers via remote control from devices planted on them or their vehicles.

In peace news, Sue Anne Pressley Montes (Washington Post) reports "A group of ministers, veterans and peace activists attempted to deliver a 'declaration of peace' to the White House today, kicking off a week of vigils and other activities in 350 communities across the country calling for the prompt withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq" and "The day's activities also featured vigils for peace in dozens of cities and towns, including Little Rock, Ark.; Tucson, Ariz.; Pasadena, Ca.; Miami, Fla.; Decatur, Ga.; Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Austin, Tex. In San Diego Friday, there will be a Dance Action for Peace; on Saturday in Cincinnati, a Peace Tent City will be erected. San Francisco is hosting a mass bicycle ride to protest the conflict, and Madison, Wisc., is holding community forums on the issue." The Declaration of Peace site contains a
Vigils Calendar that will help you find events in your area as well as more information.